As I was hiking the trails yesterday, the warm summer breeze was blowing helping me clear my brain. A young, solitary runner passed me. “Good morning, Sir!” he said with conviction.  What did he mean by that?  Sir? Does my gray hair and slower cadence belie my age?  He didn’t say, “Hey Dude,” or “Yo Bro,” or “g’day mate”.  No, he said, “Good morning Sir!”

And then I thought, “Am I afraid of getting old?  Of not fitting in with the younger crowd?” Why does it bother me that someone calls me “sir?”

But, then I decided, “Sir” means respect. As he passed me, he greeted me with respect. And he was not a friend.  He didn’t know me  or know if I was worthy of respect. He was a stranger.  And his greeting was a way of showing me, a stranger, respect.  He didn’t say, “Hey, old man,” he said, “Sir!”

And I began to wonder what our lives would be like if we showed respect to strangers. What if we assumed the strangers we meet are worthy of respect? What if others always greeted us with respect? Would we start living in a way that warranted their respect? I thought , “I need to reflect on my own life and live it as respectfully as I can.  I need to assume that the strangers I meet are worthy of my respect, not my suspicion or fear. Maybe the world would be more respectful if we treated strangers with this kind of regard.”

Toward the end of my hike, the young man lapped me. (obviously faster and younger). I stepped off the trail and let him pass. He said, “Thank you, Sir!”

And I quietly replied, “Thank you. . . Sir.”